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(457 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans Jürgen | Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] I. Mekhilta de Rabbi Ishmaʿel (Mek.) – II. Mekhilta deRabbi Shim‘on ben Yochai I. Mekhilta deRabbi Ishmaʿel (Mek.) This is an exegetical, predominantly halakhic Midrash on Exod 12:1–23:19; 31:12–17; 35:1–3 divided into nine tractates and 82 pericopes. In the printed editions, the sequence, which had been arranged according to content, was replaced by that of the Babylonian Torah lectionary. The language is Hebrew; Tannaitic texts (Tannaim) are cited exclusively. The Mekhilta includes many teachings, anonymously transmitted, that in the Bavli (Talm…

Ruth Rabbah

(151 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] Ruth Rabbah, haggadic Midrash on the book of Ruth, also called Midrash Ruth, commenting on the text verse by verse, sometimes word by word. Originally it was divided into four parts, each introduced by a proem; these correspond to sections 1–3, 4–5, 5–7, and 8 in the printed edition. Ruth Rabbah has much textual material in common with the rabbinic compilations of the Palestinian tradition (esp. the Talmud Yerushalmi [Talmud: III]), but consistently draws on it to comment on Ruth. The midrash originated in Palestine in the 5th or 6th century. Hans-Jürgen Becker Bibliograp…

Avot de Rabbi Nathan

(250 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] One of the so-called “extracanonical tracts” of the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud). It is not a “Gemara” (Talmud) to Avot , but rather a (purely haggadic [Haggadah]) commentary and expansion on it in the style of Midrash and sometimes of the Tosefta. The language is Hebrew, and the rabbis named mostly belonged to the Tannaitic period (Tannaim). It is unclear whether the title refers to the Tanna Rabbi Nathan of the same name and whether it is meant to indicate authorship. The Avot R. Nat. has been handed down in two very different versions (A …

Bemidbar Rabbah

(132 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] ( Numbers Rabbah). A Midrash on the Book of Numbers consisting of two parts: Part 1 (three-fourths of the total length) is a haggadic (Haggadah) reworking of Num 1–7 on the basis of the Midrash Tanchuma, compiled in the 11th or 12th century by Moshe ha-Darshan or his school (Narbonne, southern France) from various rab…

Shemot Rabbah

(203 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] Shemot Rabbah, a haggadic midrash on Exodus in two parts; also called Exodus Rabbah. Part 1 ( parashot 1–14) is an exegetical midrash on Exod 1–10 (supplementing the Mekhilta beginning with Exod 12); its division into sections follows the Palestinian sequence of pericopes, each introduced by a proem. The commentary is based largely on Midrash Tanchuma, adapting and supplementing its text on the pericopes while also drawing on the Talmud Bavli. Part 2 ( parashot 15–52) is a homiletical midrash on Exod 12–40, based on the Palestinian lectionary cycle. It …

Canonical Age

(239 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] Like secular law, canon law also distinguishes different stages of life that are of significance for the legal assessment of the legal actions of a natural person, or for access to the stages of ordination and to offices. For tort responsibility, for example, a ¶ person must have completed the 16th year (c. 1323 no. 1 CIC/1983 and c. 1413 §1 CCEO). From this age on, persons who have not yet come of age can also function as godparents (c. 874 §1 no. 2 CIC/1983 and c. 685 §2 CCEO). Admission to the novitiate requires a person to be 17 years old (c. 643 §1 no. 1 CIC/1983 and cc. 450 no. 4…

Bereshit Rabbah

(200 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] ( Genesis Rabbah). Exegetical Midrash on the book of Genesis. Depending on the manuscript, it consists of 97 to 101 sections (“Parashot”) that usually begin with prooemia (“Petichot”) in which verses taken from other biblical books serve as the basis for the interpretation of the respective verse of Genesis quoted at the beginning of the paragraph. In addition to short explanations of words and verses, Bereshit Rabbah also includes lengthy haggadic (Haggadah), notably several parables. The dominant language …

Deuteronomy Rabbah

(226 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] A homiletic Midrash of the Tanhuma collection, also known as Devarim Rabba, derived from the opening phrase Eleh ha-devarim (“these are the words”). There are major differences in the manuscripts (MS Oxford 147 et al.) and published texts (Constantinople 1512; Venice 1545). The previously common late dating (11th/12th cent. ce) depends too much on the additions from later phases of the transmission of the text. The beginning of the long process of compilation and redaction is, however, to be dated much earlier (5th cent. ce?) because of linguistic and content …

Esther Rabbah

(277 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] A haggadic midrash (Haggadah) on the book of Esther comprising two originally independent portions, according to the title page of Pesaro's first edition (1519) also called Midrash Esther or Midrash Ahasuerus. Part 1 (parashot 1–6; approx. two-thirds of the total) offers a verse-by-verse exegesis of Esth 1–2. The beginning of a new section of the text is usually marked by a prooemium. A significant affinity, in lang…


(1,201 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] The term midrash, Hebrew מִדְרָשׁ (from bibl. drš, “to search, query, study”; nominalized form in 2 Chr 13:22; 24:27) denotes the rabbinic interpretation of Scripture and the works of rabbinic literature compiled for the purpose of its transmission. In addition to these midrashic works, the Talmudim also contain at times extensive compilations of scriptural interpretation that can be referred to as midrashim (the longest is b. Meg. 10b–17a on Esth). Midrashic elements are found furthermore in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and especially in the Targu…


(247 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] (“Sayings of the Fathers”) is a tractate in the fourth order of the Mishnah ( Neziqin). As a purely haggadic (Haggadah) work in the tradition of proverbial wisdom, Avot occupies a special position with respect to both form and content. Rabbinic tradition shows that it did not originally belong to the Mishnah, but it had already been included in the Amoraic period – in a shorter version, different f…

Lamentations Rabbah (Rabbati)

(182 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] ( Ekha Rabba[ ti]). An exegetical midrash on the book of Lamentations, divided into over 30 prooemia and five major sections. The verse-by-verse interpretation sometimes includes extensive narratives, especially concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, since Lamentations is read and interpreted in the synagogues on the 9th of the month of Ab (Av), the day on which the destruction of the temple is commemorated. Along with Bereshit Rabbah ¶ ( Gen.R.), Lam. Rab. is the oldest exegetical midrash of Palestinian Judaism. The process of its compilation and …

Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah

(267 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] or Song of Songs Rabbah is a haggadic midrash on the Song of Songs; it is also called Midrash (or Aggadat) Chazita after its opening verse, quoting Prov 22:29. In its five proems and verse-by-verse exposition, it provides a typological interpretation of the Song of Songs, understood as representing the relationship between God and Israel. Especially in the earliest fragments (11th cent.) and manuscripts (13th cent.), the text of the midrash leaves an uneven impression and includes repetitions, some of…

Golden Rule

(739 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen | Thom, Johan C. | Härle, Wilfried
[German Version] I. Ancient Judaism – II. New Testament – III. Ethics I. Ancient Judaism An ethical maxim widespread in pagan popular philosophy, the Golden Rule is also found, in negative and positive formulation, in ancient Judaism: Tob 4:15 “Whatever you hate, do to no man”; 2 Enoch 61:1 “What anyone wishes for themself, they should do for every other living thing”; and e.g. Arist 207; Sir 31:15; in Rabbinic literature ARN B 26 (under the name of Aqiva (Akiba) ben Joseph), further usage in ARN B 29; b. Ketub. 72a etc. In b. Šabb. 31 a, Hillel responds to a request from a non-Jew to…

Conciliar Theory

(1,651 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Hans | Wohlmuth, Josef | Birmelé, André | Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] I. Church History – II. Dogmatics – III. Church Law I. Church History Conciliarism (conciliar theory) is the doctrine that the general council is the highest ecclesial authority such that even the pope is subject to its supremacy. Its roots lie primarily in the discussions of medieval canon law concerning the relationship between papal immunity and responsibility. A discussion concerning the relationship of the infallibility of the church promised Peter (Matt 16:18) to …


(23,549 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut | Kaiser, Otto | Lindemann, Andreas | Brümmer, Vincent | Schwöbel, Christoph | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Philosophy of Religion – V. Dogmatics – VI. Practical Theology – VII. Missiology – VIII. Art – IX. Judaism – X. Islam I. Religious Studies 1. It is fundamentally true that God is not an object of religious studies, since God – as theology teaches – cannot be made an object of empirical scientific study. Religious studies can only address the concepts that human beings have expressed concerning their God (or gods: God, Representations and sym…


(23,143 words)

Author(s): Schnelle, Udo | Fischer, Georg | Becker, Hans-Jürgen | Fischer Georg | Müller, Hans-Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Concept – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Dogmatics – V. Practical Theology – VI. Missiology – VII. Judaism – VIII. Cultural History I.  Concept “Bible” is the predominant designation in church, theology, and society for the collection of OT and NT scriptures recognized by the church. The word “Bible” and its close equivalents in other European languages derive from the middle Latin “biblia.” This Latin feminine derives from the Greek neuter plural τὰ βιβλία/ tá biblía. Grammatically, the sg. βιβλίον/ biblíon is a diminu¶ tive form of ἡ βίβλος/ hē b…